Category Archives: Treatment and Management

How Having A Dog Became The Best Therapy For My Kid

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As early as five years old, I had seen some symptoms of bipolar disorder in my son, Joe. There were days when everything he would do would be on the extreme side. For instance, if he were excited, he would do whatever, even if it hurt him. If he were angry about something, he would fling objects around and sometimes end up hurting himself.

Then, during Joe’s low moments, he would refuse to get out of bed, no matter if we tried to persuade him with his favorite pancakes. If we ever manage to do that, we could not encourage him to go to preschool or play with his Big Brother. All Joe would want to do was stay on the couch and do nothing else.

The thing was (and I always felt guilty about it), I was aware that those were signs of bipolar disorder, but I still did not bring my son to a psychiatrist until he turned seven years old. Though some people might condemn me for it, being in denial that you have an imperfect child was common among parents. I kept telling myself that young boys tend to behave like Joe so that I could put off a mental health diagnosis for as long as possible.

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Confirming BP

My husband and I decided to have Joe checked by a psychiatrist when we realized that he did not care about safety during his manic episodes. Before that, after all, our son snuck out of the house on a Saturday and took off with his bike on his own. He did not go too far; he mostly stayed in the local park, riding in circles. However, something wrong could still have happened to him, even if he felt invincible at the time.

When the psychiatrist confirmed my worst fear, I died a little inside. In my book, anyone with a mental health disorder would require lifetime assistance. I did not dread looking after Joe for the rest of my life, but I felt sad to imagine that he would not grow up and have all those experiences as others would have.

I voiced my concerns to the psychiatrist. I was glad I did that because she told me that bipolar kids could have normal adulthood. “Many of my previous patients have stable jobs others are already married and have happy families. Because of that, I do not see any reason why Joe cannot have the same fate.”

“How can we increase Joe’s chances of living a full, independent life?” I asked. At that moment, a sliver of hope gripped my heart.

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“The best option for Joe is to go to therapy. I can recommend you to some of the child therapists I know to positively impact their young clients’ lives. With him being so young, I would honestly not suggest giving him any drugs. That’s especially true if therapy could teach him early to recognize his symptoms and deal with them. More importantly, it may be ideal for Joe to have a service dog.”

Everything that the psychiatrist said made sense to me, specifically the need for therapy. I could already imagine that this treatment would help my son understand the difference between excitement and mania, although I did not expect him to realize it soon. He might also learn some distracting techniques during his depressive periods so that he could feel better. The only thing that I had to question was the service dog part.

“Doc, we already have a family dog that Joe loves. Can’t we turn him into a service dog?”

“You can, but it is best to give Joe a dog of his own. Besides teaching him responsibility, he would bring the service dog everywhere and help him with his symptoms. Some skilled trainers can make it easier for service dogs to assist people with medical or mental health conditions. This way, you will not worry about Joe’s welfare all the time,” the psychiatrist explained.

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Getting A Dog For Joe

Ever since Spot came into Joe’s life, he still had high and low episodes. However, what made things better was that the dog would bark whenever Joe tried to sneak out or would not move away from the couch for more than an hour or so. That’s Spot’s way of alerting us when something was up with Joe.

Another benefit of having a service dog was that he could calm down Joe wherever we went. It was explicitly helpful when Joe was at school, and we could not be there. The teachers had to call us in the past to pick up our son, but Spot was quick to distract him during those times.

Getting a dog for Joe turned out to be the best decision we ever made. It was right there on the top spot with therapy, to be honest.

Therapy For Siblings Of Bipolar Kids

During the first year that I provided therapy to bipolar kids, I had a very idealistic and businesslike approach. I said that I would only be accepting one client every hour and that my office would only be open from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. Then, I would not be taking calls after office hours from the parents. If they wanted to talk to me, they should book an appointment with my secretary.

The thing was, the young clients that sought my assistance often came with their parents and a sibling or two. They understood that most of the sessions were supposed to occur behind closed doors for confidentiality’s sake, but they still came as a family every time.

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Since I often saw brothers and sisters of bipolar kids in the office, I was quick to think, “Oh, they must have an incredible bond.” After all, no matter how pretty or child-friendly my clinic was, it was still in a mental health facility. Child or not, no one genuinely wanted to be seen going in or out of that place in fear of their friends assuming that they were not right in the head.

I got an explanation one time when I could not help but overhear a couple of converse with their older daughter while waiting for their younger daughter’s therapy session to be over.

“Can you drive me to my friend’s house later?” the girl asked.

“Sorry, honey, but your sister has a group therapy to attend after this one,” the mother replied.

“All right, but can you take me to the mall tomorrow and go shopping?”

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“Your dad can drive you to the mall, but I cannot go with you. You know that your sister doesn’t do well with massive crowds, and we cannot leave her alone at home,” the mother said.

The girl huffed. “Everything you do is for my sister’s sake. When will you ever think about me?”

I felt bad for the brothers and sisters of bipolar children in that instant. I used to believe that only the kids with mental health conditions needed much attention and were happy to get it from their families. However, I failed to see that their siblings were kids as well. Normal or not, they needed as much attention as anyone else. And since they could not consistently achieve that, it was understandable for them to get upset or even resent their bipolar siblings.

What Did I Do, You Might Ask?

Every time I would meet a client since that day, I would ask the parents to let me have a 15- or 30-minute session with their other kids. Many looked confused; others seemed offended as they pointed out that not all of their children needed mental help. I had to explain my observation to each of them.

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Every time I would do the latter, understanding would settle on the parents’ faces. It was enough indication that they also knew the struggles of their other kids who had to live with their bipolar brother or sister. Sometimes, the mom or dad would even break down as they told me how guilty they were for caring for their bipolar child more.

Giving Therapy To The Siblings Of Bipolar Kids

I had spoken to a few kids about how they felt about having a bipolar sibling, and their answers somewhat varied. Some of them expressed anger and embarrassment for having a sister or brother with a mental disorder. Others felt scared, especially when their sibling was showing their daredevil side.

However, most of those kids showed real maturity by saying that they always looked after their siblings, regardless of whether their parents asked them. Among them was that girl I overheard complaining to her mom and dad. She told me she would always check on her sister at school in between classes to make sure she was okay.

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“But no matter how much I care for my sister, I sometimes wish that she will go away so that I can live freely. I know that’s bad to say, but I feel that way whenever she’s throwing a fit of some sort,” the girl admitted shyly.

During our short therapy sessions, I explained to the children that being honest about their feelings – good or bad – was significant. Many adults turned out to have deep-seated childhood issues because they were unable to express themselves as kids. Still, I encouraged them to do it calmly, considering they knew that people with mental disorders were wired differently.

Final Thoughts

I continue to offer therapy to bipolar kids and their siblings up to this day. I have even leveled up and begun offering family counseling so that they can air out their differences in the safety of my office. It has seemed to help more families than I have initially imagined as the children who used to envy or get mad at their ill brother or sister began to understand them more.

What Therapists Say About Boosting Your Child’s Mood

A person with bipolar disorder has neurophysiological issues and is known to have severe mood swings.  Mood swings can go from being joyful, mania, to sadness and depression.   With the abnormal changes in behaviors, he can quickly get irritated that often leads him to be violent or depressed.

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Art Therapy For Bipolar Kids: Expressing The Unspoken Words

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Understanding people with mental illness such as bipolar disorder is never an easy way, especially when it comes to children. It is painstaking to see that at a very young age, these children must deal with the struggle of dealing with feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and living on the edge, as they are stricken with depression, stress, and anxiety going through the course of bipolar disorder.

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Discipline 101: Children With Bipolar Disorder

Disciplining per se is difficult. Finding the right strategy in combination with the appropriate level of strictness but still show love and affection is a hard formula to master. Imagine how hard it can be to discipline a child with a mental disorder which has the classical symptom of the shifting moods. This is where the challenge and the test of patience come in for families with children diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to experts, the basic and the general blueprint for disciplining is still applicable to a child with bipolar disorder since mostly, they are children. There are just some modifications when it comes to specific methods since there should be accommodation and understanding of the condition.

According to John Preston, PsyD, “Bipolar disorder is probably the main psychiatric disorder where medication is absolutely essential.”

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Psychiatrists Emphasize The Importance Of Sharing A Meal (Parenting A Bipolar Teenager)

Family status is complicated when you are raising a teenager diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  It has been complicated even before the diagnosis of all the irritations, separation anxiety, and tantrums.   But often when I would raise this concern to her pediatrician, he would tell me to let her be, she’s just a kid. And so that is what I did.   

 

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“Family members need to verbally compliment one another,” said Brent Blaisdell, PsyD.

 

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Helping Children Grieve Over The Loss Of Pets

Children with bipolar condition gain more positive experiences from their pets. If your child lost a pet, you can really see and feel their grief if this pet dies. This article will discuss helping them cope and go through the grieving process.

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Tips In Dealing With A Friend’s Bipolar Child

One of the things that you must know about parenting is the fact that any parent is willing and aiming to do whatever it takes to make her child happy and cheerful. According to a psychologist, it is only typical for any parent to want nothing but the best for her kid. The true reason behind this is the fact that parenthood changes a person. Cliché as it may sound, but it is true that the moment you become a parent, everything in your life changes and all your focus will be directed to your child.

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“In colloquial speech, it’s common for the word “bipolar” to be used as an adjective,” said Lauren Pedersen, LMFT.

The reason why we are discussing this matter is that we want to instill to the mind of your readers that any parent can be protective and sensitive when it comes to her child. Therefore, you have to be careful in dealing with one’s child or kid, especially if the latter is someone with bipolar disorder. We understand that it can be challenging to do this since not everyone is well versed or oriented with bipolar disorder. Do not fret because we are going to share some tips on how you can do it the right way. Here are things to keep in mind:

 

Read More About It

Avoid keeping yourself on the dark and focus on improving your learning or understanding about the psychological disorders that a child may have. In so doing, you are giving yourself a chance to be more sensitive when it comes to handling your relations or connections with children who have a mental illness or personality disorders. Stop making an excuse that you are not aware of the signs and symptoms. Nowadays, you can quickly get free resources from the Internet that can explain what bipolar disorder is.

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“People with Bipolar Disorder can become suicidal and abuse substances during both manic and depressive episodes.” – Robin Mohilner, LMFT

Watch Your Words

When speaking to a child with bipolar disorder, it is essential for you to master the art of communicating. As much as possible, watch your language so that you will not end up offending the child. You must understand that it is possible that you can trigger the symptoms of the said disorder if you are not careful with what you will say to a bipolar child. If you are not sure about what to say, it is best if you will just keep your mouth shut.

 

Keep On Asking Questions

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Another thing that you must take note is the need to feel free to ask any question or clarification about bipolar disorder. You can even make inquiries to the parents of the bipolar kid so that you will get an idea on how best to handle any situation involving the former. However, you must be careful when it comes to making inquiries so that you will not look like a fool. Aside from this, you have to do it to ensure that your friend will not be offended by your questions. If the answer to the question is too obvious, then you better not ask it.

“People living with bipolar disorder experience their own unique set of symptoms and mood fluctuations,” said Colleen King, LMFT.

 

Increase Your Patience

A child who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder may be challenging to deal with because he will show unusual characteristics. There are even times when your patience may run out whenever you have a negative encounter with them. For this reason, it is ideal if you will learn how to increase your patience and understanding even more. Take note that the said child is difficult to handle because he does not know what he is doing. He needs to go through treatment or take medications before he can heal. While he is still doing it, be sure to be more kind whenever he is around.

 

Conclusion

Now that you are aware of how to best handle someone who has a bipolar disorder, particularly a kid or a child, it is expected that you will follow everything on the list. Keep in mind that you have to master it so that you can become excellent in handling situations involving someone with a psychological disorder. Do not treat the said person similarly to other individuals. Always remind yourself that a bipolar child deserves a more specialized treatment compared to someone who is diagnosed to be free from any form of the disorder.

 

 

What Is The Difference? Online Therapy Vs In-Person Therapy

Mental health issues among the millennials increased in a decade as some of these become harder to cure through medication. Hence, the demand for therapy services also increases. Nowadays, people widely accept therapy as an alternative cure not only for mental health illnesses but also for physical intervention and treatment. A new form of therapy service bloomed as people seek these services. Online therapy services have appeared alongside our technological advancements. In this type of therapy, an online therapist can attend to your needs through your computer.

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Our world continues to digitize our practices. With these constant changes, we lose and gain factors that may both improve or decrease the quality of desired outcomes. This case is the same for online and offline therapy services. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. To give you an idea for each, here are some of their prominent advantages and disadvantages.

Offline Therapy Services

Offline therapy services are our traditional set-up where a patient visits the clinic or office of a therapist. Here, there is a face-to-face interaction and at times, physical support and assistance. Each phase of the treatment is conducted regularly held in the therapist’s office.

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Advantages

  1. You Build A Comfortable Environment

The fact that the patient and therapist are face-to-face enables the therapist to build an emotional rapport. Through this, you get to build a comfortable relationship with your patient. They are more likely to be open about their issues and problems.

  1. Physical Assistance And Support

Physical assistance and support are essential for physical therapists. It becomes possible to obtain a proper diagnosis of the patient’s condition if they are there with them. Also, this is a necessity for those undergoing physical intervention. By being with their patient, the therapist can conduct regular check-ups. Doing so allows them to create the most suitable treatment plan for their patient.

  1. All Around Treatment

Specific treatments help you physically, emotionally, and mentally. More options are available through offline therapy. The therapist can visually check for both your internal and external condition. The process is almost like “hitting two birds with one stone.”

Disadvantages

  1. Lack Of Immediate Responses

You first need to check the schedule of a therapist in your area. There are times when they are inaccessible or unavailable. If you are looking to address your mental health issue as soon as possible, this may not be the service you need.

  1. Difficult For Certain Patients

Some patients remain quiet during the sessions. They are unwilling to cooperate or talk to the therapist. This conduct is the case for those struggling with social anxiety or is merely embarrassed to talk about their problems.

Online Therapy Services

This set-up involves the provisioned use of the internet. It typically comes in the forms of email, video conferences, or real-time chat. This type of service generally is for mental health issues and nutritional therapy.

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“Bipolar I includes very clear manic episodes that are hard to miss, whereas bipolar II doesn’t necessarily have that.” – says Sally Winston, PsyD.

Advantages

  1. Cheaper

There are times when therapists are unavailable. Due to this, you may end up with an expensive one. Online therapists, on the other hand, are a cheaper alternative. You can also cut off expenses from traveling to their offices.

  1. Logistical Availability

Some mental health issues hinder you from going out, and it makes it harder for you to treat your condition. Therefore, some prefer online therapy where you can get help in the comfort of your home especially if you are far from any available therapy services in your area.

  1. Confidential

Some online therapy services allow their patients to remain anonymous. Instead of asking their patient’s name, they will only ask for their method of payment and email. The patient can prevent their friends and family from knowing that they are undergoing therapy.

“While bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder (BPD) might sound similar at first, aside from a few symptoms the two have in common—impulsivity, promiscuity, and rage—the conditions are actually very different.” – Kathleen Cairns, PsyD

Disadvantages

  1. Limited To Mental Health Issues

This form of therapy works best for patients undergoing anxiety or depression. It also offers advice on stress management, career, and relationships issues. Those in need of physical intervention may not find the treatment they need through words they only hear or read. Also, different therapy approaches including Art Therapy, Music Therapy, or Eye Movement Edenization and Reprocessing Therapy are almost impossible to conduct.

  1. Restrictions In Interactions

The relationship between patient and therapist is built on trust. With the lack of specific interactions, it may be hard for the therapist to see improvements or changes in patients. Pieces of advice may not always work out for the best especially when you only see improvement through words. It is for the case of therapies done through real-time chat or email.

Each service has its advantages and disadvantages. Being aware and informed of its pros and cons allows you to choose the most suitable one. Hopefully, this article gave you a better insight into traditional and online therapy.

“Depression treatment that works for one person, however, may not work for another. That’s because depression varies from one person to the next – in severity and type.” – Beth Esposito, MS, LPCC-S, LSW

Bipolar Disorder And Anxiety Issues

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People have their ups and downs from time to time. This is why it is not a surprise if anxiety takes place. No one can tell who’s going to have it or when it’s going to happen. Though it is natural for a person’s mood to change now and then, still, there are instances when the anxiety levels become too much.

“If we feel anxious, most of us believe we need to get ourselves under control.” – Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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